Bias is something every individual has, expert says

By Tamir Moore

DCCC student David Zeghibe considers a question to ask during the “Managing Everyday Bias” workshop on Feb. 12 at DCCC’s Marple campus. Photo by Tamir Moore

On Feb. 12, DCCC hosted the “Managing Everyday Bias” workshop as a part of the Navigating Leadership series at the Marple campus.

The workshop was facilitated by Simmee Myers, the college’s new Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer.

“I have been here for about three months,” said Myers, the first person to serve in this new role.

During the workshop, Myers emphasized that bias is something that every individual has, whether he realizes it or not. She also noted that social bias toward others influences how people navigate their daily life.

Only four students attended the workshop.

Outside the building, vocal religious protestors from the Key of David Christian Center based in Northeast Philadelphia engaged with students on campus that day, delaying the presentation by a few minutes.

“Part of my job is to ensure that students stay safe,” Myers said, explaining the delay.

Free pizza is served during the “Managing Everyday Bias” workshop on Feb. 12 at DCCC’s Marple campus. Photo by Tamir Moore

The presentation began with Myers explaining the origins of bias to students. According to Myers, there are two types of bias: explicit bias and unconscious bias.

Explicit bias consciously impacts people’s actions and decisions. Unconscious bias impacts people’s actions and decisions on a subconscious level.

Myers provided the students with an example of explicit bias.

“If I am attracted towards people with black hair, I might say that I have a bias for people with black hair,” Myers said.

Myers did not share an example of subconscious bias.

Myers then presented statistics to explain gender bias.

Back in the ‘70s and ‘80s, a symphony orchestra held “blind auditions,” meaning those listening could not see the candidates.

Before the blind auditions, less than 5% of the orchestra were women. After the blind auditions, 25% of the orchestra were women. Therefore, blind auditions increased the chance that women would be selected for the job.

After the presentation, Myers tested students to see if they would associate a word as either unpleasant or pleasant. The timed test was a one-page, two-sided worksheet.

The test, which featured words like “evil,” “bug,” “daffodil” and “love” was not about answering right or wrong. The test was about assessing how quickly students completed each side.

“When you are finished, put your pen down and look up,” Myers instructed.

Myers inquired which side was completed the quickest. Half of the students finished side A faster. The other half of the students finished side B faster.

Myers stated that if students finished one side quicker than the other one, this meant that they had a quicker association with that side.

Myers also said that the test is designated to provide an example of how researchers measure implicit bias.

One student who attended the workshop shared his feelings about the test.

“I feel like the time for the test destroyed my decision-making process,” said David Zeghibe, a 33-year-old business administration major.

Zeghibe felt that he was rushed while taking the test because Myers kept a timer at the front of the room.

Myers told Zeghibe to take a test home and compare his results between the two environments.

Myers wrapped up the workshop by leading a discussion about ways to address and limit bias.

Students bounced ideas back and forth during a respectful conversation.
“I think we should try different things to limit our own perceived bias of others,” said DCCC student Justina Lewis.

Lewis mentioned when someone goes on a subway, for instance, depending his own bias, he may choose where or whom to sit next to.

Myers expects this workshop to become more expansive in the years to come.

“This workshop was just the beginning of a larger conversation,” Myers said. “I hope more students will come in the future.”

The next workshop in the Navigating Leadership series will be “Understanding Leadership Mindsets” on March 4.

Contact Tamir Moore at communitarian@mail.dccc.edu

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